I lived in Okinawa three years and there’s stuff I really love about this place. Okinawa is much more than the Hawaii of Japan; it’s the hidden gem of Asia. Aside from the ocean which I frequent as if it were my day job, there’s a bunch of really neat things that make Okinawa super unique. Okinawa is the best prefecture to live in starting with:
1. Okinawa Time
People are usually punctual back home. Most people arrive at least 15 minutes early. While this applies to your job, showing up late to parties, events, and probably your own wedding is acceptable. I’ve seen teachers and coworkers show up an hour or two hours late to school parties. It’s perfectly fine.
2. Dat Country Bumpkin Life
Depending on where you live, you experience the super countryside, city, or somewhere in the middle like me. I live close enough to American Village, but far enough away to have a nice sea breeze rolling through my apartment in the summer months. I love being out by the quiet. Minus the scooter gangs at 11PM.
4. Shikwasa, Beni Imo, Okinawa Soba, Goya chanpuru
I love food. Food I do adore. Okinawa’s unique cultures gives rise to dishes just as unique. Pork comes in abundance and is prevalent in the soba. Shikwasa is a “bitter lemon” I have used to substitute lime whenever I make guacamole. Try shikwasa juice when you’re in Okinawa. It’s an awesome lemonade and mixer. The goya may taste like shit on it’s own but put a little Okinawan TLC and you’ve got a most delicious stir fry.
5. Outdoor activities
Since Okinawa boasts a subtropical climate, most of the year is a great temperature and amazing for outdoor activities. Hiking, surfing, and beaching are the most popular activities.
6. Orion Beer Fest and Eisa
Obon is a time for the ancestors and hits Okinawa in August. During this time, you can experience the summer festivals, wear jinbei or yukata, and watch fireworks. They’re not as big as the ones I’ve seen in America, but drink a little Orion beer, and they sparkle like Macau’s skyline.
7. American things
Being on Okinawa means there’s more foreigners and more foreigners means more foreign products even though it’s a bit more expensive. I finally found Nutella in the store! Yay!
8. Okinawans are super friendly
One of the best parts about being on this island is how nice people are! I don’t get stared at because I’m a foreigner. Okinawans are used to Americans and don’t look at me like some rare specimen in the zoo. They treat me like a normal person and it’s wonderful. My kids have been the biggest example of this kindness. Their open hearts and minds give me the warm fuzzies.
If anything will make the hair grow on your backside, it’s Awamori. Proudly brewed Okinawan rice alcohol, it’s a fantastic way to go through your night. You get a bottle, you get your friends, you take a pitcher of ice and water and then you mix it. Presto.
10. Natural Beauty
Okinawa boasts amazing waterfalls and great hiking. If you take the time, you can soak in the beauty by conquering the waterfalls and hour long hikes. If you take the time, you might find yourself on the seawall during the sunset and let it’s glittering waters capture your heart.